It’s raining again. That’s typical for spring in the Pacific Northwest. We really have two seasons, rainy and summer. I’m so anxious for my vegetables to grow and it’s tough to be patient. I’m surviving off of frozen and canned vegetables, (with the occasional tiny lettuce leaf on my sandwiches!) and have been trying to find fun flavorful ways to use them. After agreeing to cook a month’s worth of frozen dinners (in one day) for my grandparents, I came up with this vegetable soup recipe in a moment of desperation. Fortunately, it turned out so well that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
My grandpa turned 90 last and I decided to make a freezer full of meals for his birthday gift. They can’t really get to the store since my Grandpa’s fall, so they’ve been having my dad buy them a certain brand of frozen meals (that I’m not naming because I hate to speak badly of anyone) that’s full of sodium and fat.
Not good! I knew I could make them much healthier and tastier frozen meals. So my dad paid the cost and I spent Friday cooking… for 10 hours!
My grandparents were so excited to see their freezer packed full of healthy meals cooked from scratch. I made them Taco Soup, but used plain diced tomatoes instead of the kind with chiles, and used cumin and oregano instead of taco seasoning because Grandma can’t do spicy foods. I also made a kind of baked spiral pasta in my meaty red sauce topped with mozzarella cheese. I did a simple chicken and rice casserole with peas and made mini meatloafs (meatloaves?) in muffin tins. Lastly, I made this simple, filling vegan soup recipe.
I made sure everything I cooked for them had vegetables in it because I knew that these could quite possibly be the only meals my grandparents eat each day. Because of that I also needed to make sure there was a good amount of protein in each meal. That’s where the chickpeas in this recipe come in.
This soup is vegan but it still has plenty of protein and iron in it. I used to buy canned chickpeas, but I discovered that it’s cheaper to buy dried chickpeas and cook them myself. Simply put them in a crockpot with three cups of water for every cup of dried chickpeas. Cook 4-6 hours on high until it reaches the texture you want, some people like their chickpeas to have some bite to them, others like them totally mushy. I just test one every hour starting at three hours. You can use the liquid from the chickpeas as part of your stock for this soup, or save it in the freezer to use in future soups, it’s very flavorful.
You can often get dried chickpeas at the bulk section of various grocery stores, but I get mine from my new favorite website, Azure Standard. I buy a lot of organic, whole ingredients from them. You have to buy in bulk for most items, but it comes out a LOT cheaper long term than buying in stores. Expect to hear more about them in the future as I begin sharing some of the recipes I’ve been developing from things I’ve ordered. (These are not sponsored posts, I’ve paid for these ingredients, I just love them so much that I have to share!)
It’s finally warm enough for fresh herbs in the garden so I like to include some on top of the soup when I serve it. If you don’t have any you can mix in some dried herbs like parsley or Italian seasoning to add some flavor.
Vegetable Barley Soup RecipePrep time: 15-25 minutes Cook time: 30-90 minutes Total time: 45 minutes to 1 hour and 55 minutes Yield: 8-10 servings
- 8 cups
vegetable stock (you can make your own vegetable stock)
- 1 1/2 cups
barley (or brown rice)
carrots, peeled and chopped
white onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves
garlic, finely chopped
- 2 stalks
- 1 cup
- 1 1/2 cups
cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 14-15 oz can
diced tomatoes in juice
- 1/4 cup
rough chopped fresh herbs of your choice
- Place vegetable stock in a large pot with bay leaves and bring to a low boil. Add barley or brown rice and cover. Let simmer on medium low for 1 hour for barley or 10 minutes for brown rice.
- Add chopped carrots, onion and garlic and simmer another 10 minutes, covered.
- Add celery, frozen peas, chickpeas and tomatoes. Cover and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes until desired texture is reached.
- Divide among bowls and top with fresh herbs ( I like to use Italian parsley).
Approximate cost/serving: This came out to just $4.60 or so to make. I saved a lot of money by cooking my own chickpeas, using homemade stock, and getting my barley from bulk bins. If you don’t grow your own herbs, use dried ones from the bulk spice section to save money. At ten servings, it’s just 46 cents a serving. Even if you eat larger portions than we do, it’s still under 80 cents a serving.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: This is already vegetarian and vegan. Barley is NOT gluten free. To make this gluten free, use the brown rice instead of barley. It will not need to boil as long as barley so taste test the rice and add your vegetables when it is only partially cooked. Or you can precook the rice in water or vegetable stock and add it to the soup last.